A GPS has become an indispensable tool for driving, enabling drivers to accurately plot their current position and follow clear route instructions to a specified destination.  GPS manufactures have been innovating, and in this article we discuss some of these new features.

People are increasingly buying a GPS for their cars, given their usefulness. That said, finding the best GPS for your needs is not straightforward and requires some knowledge  of these devices. To help, we have prepared this shopping guide discussing frequently asked questions and the top products on the US market.

Key Facts

  • The GPS system is based on a network of roughly 24 satellites orbiting the Earth.  In any given moment, at least six satellites are accessible by the GPS receivers.
  • When choosing a GPS, the first aspect to consider is the intended use. For example, the best GPS for will vary depending on if you are driving a car, truck or motorbike.

Ranking: The best GPS on the US market

Here is a list that we have prepared of the five best personal GPS systems currently available on the US market. We have made this list after analyzing a variety of items focusing on quality products at an affordable price.

No. 1: Garmin Drive 50 USA LM GPS Navigator System with Lifetime Maps

The Garmin Drive 50 is our top pick and also happens to be one of the most popular GPS options currently in the US.  It offers excellent features at an excellent price.  The key features include: driver alerts regarding upcoming sharp curves, speed changes, school zones, a fatigue warning, nearby red lights and speed cameras. It is a user-friendly GPS that displays current street, current speed, speed limit and arrival time.

This GPS makes use of recognizable landmarks, buildings and traffic lights to help guide you more clearly on your route. It is also preloaded with data from Foursquare integrating millions of popular stores and restaurants.  The display resolution is excellent – 480 x 272 pixels.  The rechargeable lithium-ion battery life last up to 1 hour.

No. 2: Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator

The Garmin eTrex 20x is an adventure GPS, perfect for off-the-beaten track exploring. This is an upgraded version of the previous eTrex 20. It comes with enhanced screen resolution and expanded internal memory so you can download a greater variety of maps. It is a durable and rugged GPS. It has an array of compatible mounts for use on ATVs, bicycles, boats and cars.

The eTrex 20x also has the ability to track both GPS and GLONASS satellites simultaneously. It supports geocaching GPX files for downloading geocaches and details straight to your unit. Additionally, it features a 2.2” 65K color sunlight readable display offering increased resolution (240 x 320 pixels).  Hikers will love this GPS as it tracks your position quickly and precisely and maintains its location even in dense forests and deep canyons.

No. 3: GPS Navigation for Car by JRCX

This inexpensive GPS by JRCX is a great budget-option that still maintains key quality features. It provides a lifetime map updated for free. Directions can be provided in multiple languages. This GPS provides alerts for upcoming sharp curves, speed changes, school zones, a fatigue warning and nearby red lights. The 7 inch large touch screen reacts fast.

With 8GB ROM, there is plenty of room to store maps for overseas trips. The device also comes with a car charger, back bracket mount and sunshade. Last, this GPS comes with a 100% satisfaction 90 days hassle free money back guarantee, and lifetime warranty.

No. 4: Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO

The Garmin GPSMAP is a hard-core outdoors GPS for serious explorers.  It comes with a worldwide basemap with shaded relief and is preloaded with TOPO 100K, which includes coverage of the full U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Additionally, it includes a 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription — all the tools needed for serious climbing or hiking. Map detail includes national, state and local parks and forests, along with terrain contours, elevation information, trails, rivers, lakes and points of interest.

GPSMAP 64st has a built-in electronic compass, which shows your heading even when you’re standing still. Its barometric altimeter tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint your precise altitude, and you can even use it to plot barometric pressure over time, which can help you keep an eye on weather conditions. Last, with Smart Notification you can wirelessly receive email, texts and alerts from your compatible iPhone 4s or later.

No. 5: Xgody X4 9inch Truck GPS Big Touchscreen Trucking GPS

If by some chance you drive a truck regularly and need a truckers GPS, this solution by Xgody could be for you. The XGODY X4 includes a large bright screen with excellent resolution of 800×480. The clearer screen display gives you a better visual experience. You can customize a better route according to your vehicle’s weight, length, height and width, thus avoiding the roads which have width restrictions or height restriction or weight restrictions.

XGODY X4 comes with “All America maps,” including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States.  You can get voice guidance from the voice of your choosing so that you don’t have to look at the GPS screen all the time. This GPS also sends alerts about: speed cameras, red light cameras, railway crossings, High Accident Zones, and dangerous areas.

Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about a GPS

When buying a GPS, it is useful to consider several aspects. The following section covers general information about GPSs and the most commonly asked questions by GPS consumers.

A GPS enables you to choose between 2D or 3D maps and voice assistance.
(Source: Rostislavsedlacek: 74792461/ 123rf.com)

What is a GPS?

The GPS (Global Position System) or global positioning systems are satellite navigation systems that enable you to precisely determine your geographic position. This technology that was initially created for the military but expanded significantly over time for civilian use.

The GPS positioning system operates through a series of land-based control stations and a network of satellites. For a GPS to work, the device receive a signal from at least six satellites. The GPS devices in cars today are basically GPS receivers that replay satellite information.

What are GPSs for?

GPS devices help you determine your location, enabling you to arrive at a destination with ease. GPSs also help you identify alternate routes, as well as providing accurate information about points of interest such as, for example, restaurants, shopping centers and petrol stations.

A GPS can alert you to the presence of speed cameras and speed limit changes. Certain types of specialized agricultural GPSs help farmers monitor their land of cultivation to  reduce fumigation and harvesting costs.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a GPS?

There are several advantages as well as disadvantages to using GPSs. With a GPS, it is possible to determine your position, establish the most efficient driving routes and estimate the approximate time of arrival. However on the contrary, a GPS can distract you when driving, and increase the chances of an accident. The following table elaborates further the advantages and disadvantages of a GPS.

Advantages Disadvantages
They let you know your position with a high level of accuracy Sometimes, they can distract you from the road and increase the risk of an accident
Some GPSs do not need to be connected to the Internet to determine your position. This way, you can use them in places where 3G or 4G internet coverage does not reach Updating maps can be an extra expense
They provide detailed information on the route and points of interest
They make it possible to estimate the approximate time of arrival
They offer information and warnings of fixed speed cameras
They help you drive more comfortably and safely, as you don’t need to rely on your mobile phones’ navigation system

Is a GPS worth buying?

If you drive regularly and use different routes, then buying a GPS is worth considering. A GPS can help you save time and provide useful information. Additionally, they can also help you avoid speeding fines.

Who should buy a GPS?

Anyone who uses a vehicle to make frequent journeys should buy a GPS. GPSs are particularly useful for those who are constantly using different routes. A GPS is especially useful if you travel in areas where Internet coverage is low. A GPS system is also recommended for farmers to track the movements of their tractors or harvesters in order to reduce costs.

Some GPS devices include free lifetime map updates.
(Source: Chockchai Paralart: 38778182/ 123rf.com)

What types of GPS devices are there?

A GPS can be divided into two distinct categories: portable devices and those installed in a vehicle. Portable devices can be used several vehicles, whereas built-in devices are integrated into the vehicle’s dashboard. The following table breaks down the main features of each type.

Portable Installed
Installation They are light and easily transportable. They have a bracket to attach them to any vehicle They are normally installed as standard in the dashboard of the car
Battery You usually connect them to the car’s cigarette lighter to charge the battery on long trips You don’t have to worry about charging the battery
Speed Turn on speed varies between models. You may need to wait while the navigator system is loading They work as soon as the car is started, so the waiting time is minimal
Use They can be used in different vehicles Can only be used in the car in which they are installed
Probability of theft Given their small size, they can be easily stolen if you leave them inside the car They cannot be stolen unless your entire vehicle is stolen

What are the most important functions that a GPS includes?

A GPS generally includes several features to make driving easier. Most models let you choose between 2D and 3D maps and the option of voice guidance, which lets you focus on the road as you drive. Another feature present in some GPSs is an alert system that warns drivers of dangerous stretches of roads.

Another common functionality is the signalling of fixed speed cameras. GPSs may even advise which lane is more suitable for driving.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9L4vajlayU

Shopping Criteria

If you are considering a GPS, there are a number of different factors to consider before making your purchase. In this section, we have selected the most important criteria to help guide and improve your purchase decision.

  • Intended use
  • Screen
  • Updates
  • Maps included
  • Battery
  • Extra accessories

Intended use

The intended use of a GPS is the first question you should consider.  GPSs are usually built for car use, but there are also devices suitable for trucks or motorcycles.

GPSs for trucks give drivers information on road width as well as height of approaching tunnels. GPSs for motorcycles are usually waterproof and have more attachment brackets.

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A GPS works by receiving information from at least 24 satellites that are in orbit around Earth.

Screen

Most people generally opt for a GPS with the largest available screen.  However a larger screen size is usually more expensive.  Keep in mind that the resolution, the level of brightness and minimal reflection are also important. If viewing the screen is not user friendly, there can be an increased risk of accident.

GPSs notify the presence of speed cameras, speed limits or other factors such as an upcoming school zone.
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Updates

Some GPS models include free lifetime map updates whereas others require you to pay for updates. The former tends to require a higher initial economic investment, but in the long term, it may be more worthwhile.

Consider whether you will require frequent updates or whether you plan on using the same regions. This will help you decide whether to invest in a GPS with lifetime updates or simply pay for updates as needed.

Maps included

Every GPS include pre-loaded maps.  When choosing which device to buy, consider which package of maps you want the device to include at the onset. The devices available to you will be different depending on if you want maps of your own state, the whole country or neighboring countries.

There are currently two main map providers for GPSs across the world: Navteq and Tele Atlas. Their functionalities are similar but it is still worthwhile to study the features and additional information that each provider includes.

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It’s useful if the screen includes a night mode and even better if it is a touchscreen.

Battery

Generally, the battery of a GPS will last for two to three hours. Fortunately, charging your battery in the car is simple. If you plan on using the GPS with another type of vehicle, such as a motorcycle, charging becomes less straightforward.

Extra accessories

A good fastening system is an important aspect of your GPS and can save a lot of headaches. Also, it is essential that the GPS has a charging system that is compatible with your vehicle. The most common form of charging is via the cigarette lighter.

Another interesting “extra” is a Bluetooth connection. With Bluetooth, you can usually synch your phone with the GPS.  Some GPSs can connect to the Internet via WiFi for map updates.

A GPS navigation system is recommended if you do not want to get lost.
(Source: Aleksey Boldin: 32493059/ 123rf.com)

Summary

Having a GPS can be helpful when you are on the move. They help plan routes, find locations, identify places of interest as well as alert you about speeding cameras.

To decide which GPS is best for you, consider how you are going to use it. You should also study its specifications such as screen, maps, battery life and “extra” accessories.

Finally, if you found this guide useful, please leave us a comment or share it through your different social networks.

(Source of featured image: Moreno Soppelsa: 10480474/ 123rf.com)

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